Alexey Reteyum: "Baku’s design is amazing. There is much to learn for Moscow”

Alexey Reteyum: "Baku’s design is amazing. There is much to learn for Moscow”

A Russian-Azerbaijani round table entitled ”Cultural bridges between Russia and Azerbaijan as a basis for intercultural dialogue" took place in the State Duma. On the sidelines of this event, Vestnik Kavkaza talked with the director of the Botanical Garden of the Moscow State University, Alexey Reteyum, about the features of the landscape design in Baku.

- One of your areas of interest is landscape design and urban environment. In the summer of 2018, you visited Baku. What Baku’s findings in this area seemed to you the most interesting?

- I was struck by this city. I was there 20 years ago, in my youth, and when I returned there not so long ago, I saw that the changes were dramatic. I say this as an expert in the topic of creating a favorable urban environment. The changes in Baku amazed me that incredibly. Modern, interesting landscape solutions were used, for which the best specialists with the most valuable experience in this field were invited. The urban environment is a very subtle thing, something very lively and mobile. It is necessary that people are comfortable and cozy where they walk - in public gardens, on boulevards and squares. It struck me how delicate, subtle and at the same time in a modern way this environment arranged almost everywhere in Baku’s downtown.

There is much to learn for Moscow from Baku; In the architectural sphere, in the sphere of a comfortable urban environment, in the sphere of other approaches and techniques of the urban life organization, we have a lot of areas for cooperation. And in order to learn this, I think it is worth sending as many students and specialists to Baku as possible so they can see how to achieve such a living effect. Baku is a very vivid city and it is comfortable for people to be on the streets in the afternoon, evening and at night. It seems to me that Baku is experiencing a tourist boom. When I was there in the summer, I was amazed by how many foreigners visit the city. And it is no coincidence because the city is endearing.

In the work on the image of Baku, for the implementation of the most ambitious projects, such as the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center, the great architects were invited. The architecture and organization of the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center are one of my strongest personal emotional impressions from any architectural structure in recent decades. I was amazed at how unconventionally and at the same time organically, in a modern way, the project was executed. It really was an aesthetic shock, I will never forget it. It seems to me that here, in Russia, we could do the same. I am generally impressed by the international approach to architecture because famous architects are being invited all over the world. Studying the experience of what architects and how were invited to Azerbaijan in recent decades can be very interesting since  Baku’s design is amazing.

- You mentioned about the agreement to hold the festival of Azerbaijani chamber music and poetry in the Garden. Can you tell any details?

- The idea is to hold a full-fledged festival of the Azerbaijani culture. We are now engaged in the intensive negotiations with the Azerbaijani Youth Organization of Russia, with which we have been cooperating for a long time and have already implemented some small projects related to planting plants and improving the environment in the Garden. We hope that we will manage to organize a  day or even two, which will be dedicated, among other things, to the music of Azerbaijan, from traditional mugham to maybe even mugham-jazz. We found great performers.

Some time ago I was invited to a wonderful concert by Farhad Badalbeyli in the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, and I managed to get to know him after the concert. It was also one of the most powerful musical impressions in my life. He is not only a brilliant pianist and composer, but he is also an incredibly easy-going person. Badalbeyli is a great musician, the rector of the conservatory, and nevertheless, we immediately made contact. After that, we decided that our subtropical greenhouse, this new and unique space with about 350 seats, can hold a two-day festival with the participation of wonderful performers who would play the national Azerbaijani music. I would like to start the festival with traditional mugham, and then move on to the modern performers and trends in  Azerbaijani music. At the same time, if this all works out, it would be possible to show paintings as well as arrange lectures on the history and culture of Azerbaijan.

My visits to Baku’s museums left a very strong impression. Both the Museum of History of Azerbaijan and the Museum of Carpet impressed me much. It seems to me that acquaintance with the most interesting and key moments of the history of this wonderful country would be very useful for the Apothecary Ogorod and the Botanical Garden. Since we are quite popular, these Days of Azerbaijani Culture could be visited by tens of thousands of people. We hope that this will happen. Now we are finalizing the program, perhaps, it will include theatrical performances. The Botanical Garden allows you to simultaneously organize a concert, a play, an exhibition, and a lecture - we have enough theatrical and music spaces and lecture halls.

- How are the privet pyramids planted by Leyla Aliyeva doing?

- They are great. In fact, privet is a plant critical to our climate. Nevertheless, they have been feeling fine for two years now. That corner was organically completed by the pyramids, they stand against the background of the garden of medicinal herbs, one of our key botanical exhibits planted in the Aptekarsky Ogorod 313 years ago. I think that in spring when they are covered with leaves again, they will incredibly delight all our visitors. We want to do some joint work in the botanical field once again.

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